With Bauzley’s first birthday approaching, I felt like it was time to finally share our birth story with everyone. It’s funny how even after a year I can so vividly remember the days leading up to his birth and the weeks that followed. Everyone says that when you’re in labour, it all becomes a blur. You’re high on adrenaline and excitement for what the future holds. Maybe a little laughing gas too if you didn’t opt for a natural birth! Despite the blur, there will be moments that you can relive every emotion that coursed through your body, moments that change your life.
Throughout my pregnancy, people kept asking me what my birth plan was. I remember crying to James one night, feeling like I was already failing motherhood because I didn’t have any specific wants. Thanks pregnancy hormones lol. I truly believed (and still do) that our bodies are made to birth our childen and you don’t have a choice but to get that baby out, so why dwell on what’s to come. So this became my plan: If it hurts too badly, I’ll get an epidural. If it doesn’t, I won’t. If I want to be alone, I’ll be alone. If I don’t, I won’t. You get the point. My only stipulation was pictures- lots of pictures. Even with what I think were very relaxed expectations for what labour and delivery would be like, Bauz still didn’t come like I ever imagined.
The morning I went into labour with Bauzley, me and my mom joked that I was going to either walk the baby out or eat so much he ran out of room. We planned a day of shopping and stopped for brunch at Cora to eat the most unhealthiest of waffles. Sitting there mourning the passing of my due date and the other four days that had come and gone, I felt something. Nah, I thought, I’m not in labour. Five days overdue and I was at the I am never going to be in labour point. So we talked, ate and laughed- I felt something again. Holy shit. I think I just had a contraction. I was pleased, like really really pleased. I remember thinking, let’s walk everywhere so these babies don’t disappear on me! It was about noon on March 4 at that point, so we went to do some shopping. I remember having to brace myself through a contraction at Fabricland, and by late afternoon deciding it was time to go home. I text James saying, I think I’m in labour!!!! We ate a steak dinner with my parents that night and I couldn’t focus on anything other than how excited I was to finally meet this baby. I felt calm, way more calm than I expected to. By 4am I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes, I woke James and mom up, it was time to go! I was shaking, panting through every contraction that came and went. I thought to myself,
“Yes! This is happening quick. I can do this.”
Just kidding. We got to labour and delivery, Bauzley’s head was dropped so low I had about 5 different nurses trying to check how dilated I was and no one could reach.
“One second dear, I’m going to get someone with longer fingers to come and try.”
I’m wavering between mortified, you’ve got to be effing kidding me and someone get me the morphine! Finally, they have success. Then she says,
“Sorry dear, you’re only 3cm dilated, why don’t you go walk around for a couple hours and we’ll recheck you.”
That was the point reality set in, I was doomed for a long labour, I just knew it. I was already exhausted and didn’t want to walk, I wanted to lay down and have a nap. Luckily, I had two drill sargents with me who made me walk and let me rest in between. Not feeling overly optimistic, we went back up for a recheck and they sent us home. Despite being discouraged that I wasn’t dilating quickly, I was so relieved to just go home. Coffee and breakfast were in order after a long night wide awake. Hours came and went, I bounced on the exercise ball, laid on the floor, made everyone rub my back and then rub it some more. I don’t remember the specifics, but by mid afternoon we were heading back to the hospital. After an even lengthier cervix check, we were admitted!
From the minute we got our room, our nurses were amazing. We discussed our birth plan (or lack of one) and everyone seemed to agree that labour would be quick from here on out. My OB stopped in to check on us and told us with a big smile on her face, we will see this baby before 6pm tonight! Thrilled would probably be an understatement for how I felt at that point, especially with the screams of the lady next door ringing through the hallways.
Unfortunately, everyone was wrong. Not long after, my contractions were intensifying. I was in and out of the shower, changing positions, pacing, and trying to find every ounce of strength within me. My nurse popped in to check on me and let me know that if I wanted an epidural I would need to go ahead with it right away. *Prior to labour I was perfectly fine with getting an epidural, I was just terrified of actually having it. That is one big ass needle and it is also known to cause migraines. Having suffered from migraines for years I was extremely nervous to have this done.* I basically yelled yes in her face though, because what kind of crazy person turns that down after roughly 30 hours of labour- NOT ME! Power to all you mamas that had an all natural birth!
As the nurse left to let the anesthesiologist know to prep for the epidural, I got hit with the worst contraction yet. It stole my breath and I panted for James to push on my hips as I rested my head on the window sill. He only pressed for a moment and then I couldn’t feel a thing. I turn around to see what he’s doing and this damn guy has stopped to peel himself a cube of cheese *insert manic laughing* ! Haha! I have never ever seen such a guilty look on James’ face in our entire relationship, quickly turning to fear as he seen his life flash before his eyes. Luckily, he finished his cheese at the exact same time my contraction ended and I couldn’t do anything but laugh in disbelief. It took awhile but eventually the anesthesiologist came and I got my sweet, sweet epidural. Shortly after, I was finally able to get some rest. As I drifted in and out of sleep, the sky darkened once again.
All the sudden, it’s go time. My OB was there, the lights were dim and I remember looking at the clock thinking wow, my babies birthday is going to be March 5, 2016 (little did I know he would hold on until 1:48am on March 6, 2016). As I took a minute to just soak it in, my OB and nurses whispered amongst themselves. They had decided they would give me a drug to wear off the effects of the epidural. She wanted me to be able to feel myself pushing and hopefully speed up the process.
Now would be a good time to explain that the ideal position for a baby to be born is with his head turned sideways. Bauzley however was face up, which caused him to become stuck.
I was finally pushing, my doctor was explaining how to push over and over. Push harder dear, you can do it girl. Just one more push, one more push and you get to meet your baby. She was so positive. Every time she said one more push, I believed her. I pushed so hard I could feel blood vessels popping in my face. It’s true when people say that you are taken over by some sort of super human strength when you’re in labor. All I wanted was to hear her say, I see the head! I wanted that baby out and not because of the pain, I just wanted to hold him. I can so vividly remember the look on my doctors face as she glanced up at the clock, it had been hours of pushing at this point. I’m giving you 15 more minutes and then we are going to have to call the surgical team. It didn’t really register for me, I nodded as I looked at James and my mom. They both stayed quiet and the atmosphere of the room shifted. The next 30 minutes were a blur, the surgical team assembled. The surgeon on call came in and said he wanted to try the vacuum in hopes we would get the baby out without having a Cesarean. By this time, the entire surgical team was in my room. James counted and said 14 people watched as they tried twice to vacuum him out unsuccessfully.
I was exhausted.
They brought me paperwork to sign that I don’t remember a word of. They gave me a horrible drink in a shot glass. I immediately projectile vomited across the room and all over my doctor. Both of our heart rates were rising rapidly and I was being rushed out the door. They took me in alone and put James in a little hallway outside the operating room while they prepared. I was in a fog, I had no idea what was happening as they strapped my arms down. The room was so cold, the surgeon was telling me you might feel some pressure we’re starting now.
He started to cut and I felt like my very core had been lit on fire. I could feel every thing. I had no epidural anymore, it had been worn off hours and hours before. I screamed that I could feel the cutting and I will never forget the look in his eyes as he asked me if I could handle it. Because if you can handle it, we don’t have time to wait he said. And so I nodded, because what choice did I have. Try your best not to move he said and I was petrified. I held my breath and I prayed for it to be over. All the while, James has been in the hallway, finally they brought him in. There were tears streaming down his face, they had just left him out there to listen to me scream and no one told him what was happening. I had never really seen him cry before though, I remember being so confused asking him why are you crying! What’s wrong!? All he could choke out was, I’m not, which was good enough for me to leave it alone.
The anesthesiologist was working overtime behind me, pumping me full of whatever he could to try and freeze me. He kept trying to force a mask onto me with laughing gas and I felt like I was suffocating. I was sobbing to take it off and he wasn’t listening to a word I said, James stood up and I thought he was going to knock him out right there. The mask came off and the doctor said, you have a boy! I couldn’t hear anything though. I was sobbing, why isn’t he crying? I was literally starting to lose my mind and looking back I can see why you’re strapped down, because I would have jumped off the bed to see what was going on. Finally, a scream. I heard our sweet boy crying and at the same time all the drugs started kicking in. I couldn’t feel a damn thing from my neck down. They laid Bauzley on my chest and I sobbed, I couldn’t feel my baby, I begged James to pick him up because I was terrified he was going to roll off of me to the ground. He picked him up, eyes the size of tea cups and they wheeled me away.
When I woke up, I was in the recovery room. The last couple days felt like a dream, I looked around and couldn’t see anyone. I was alone in a room full of empty beds, with a ticking clock staring me in the face. I didn’t know where I was, a nurse finally noticed I was awake and came to explain that I was being monitored and that I would be required to regain a certain amount of sensation before I could join my new family. I watched the hours pass, 1, 2, 3, 4, I couldn’t take it anymore. I bawled and I begged them to see my baby, I hadn’t even really got to meet him. The nurses gave in and they brought Bauzley to me. They laid him on my chest again and tried to give me some privacy, but I still couldn’t feel anything. He was hungry and I couldn’t even try to feed him myself. One of the nurses so kindly tried to help, asking if I thought he was latching. I had no idea, I had never breastfed anyone before and again, I was so frozen I couldn’t even feel his little body resting on me let alone tell if he was nursing. As quickly as they brought him to me, they whisked him away again. I cried. I asked for James, I just wanted to see him even for a minute to know that everything was okay. Once again, they obliged and it was a moment of light in a long, long night.
Finally, they agreed that I was stable enough to finish recovery in my room. The 5 hours I was gone for were the longest of my life. As I write this, I’m still so emotional, I feel like time was robbed from us as a new family. Moments that are supposed to be the happiest, most precious moments were instead the hardest of our lives. One year postpartum, and I’m beginning to find peace in our story. Although emotional, it’s not so hard to talk about anymore. We were of course blessed with a healthy, happy, perfectly amazing little boy and for that I am so, so thankful.
I feel that it is so important to talk about our birth trauma openly, in hopes that others don’t feel alone. Before my experience I had no idea that a birth could be so traumatic that it affects how you parent. I didn’t know that you could suffer from PTSD and flashbacks. That anxiety about what could have been, could swallow your body whole some days. For me, the worst part of birth trauma is the guilt associated with not having the instant love connection. The first two times Bauzley was placed on me, all I felt was fear. That broke my heart, not only in the moment but in the weeks and months that followed. I’m still on a long road to healing but now when I look back, I can see how far I’ve already come.
If you made it this far, thanks for sharing in our birth story!